The buccaneer who avoided violence
TALL, dark and handsome, the pirate captain Samuel ‘Black Sam’ Bellamy preferred charm and persuasion over violence.
The self-styled ‘Robin Hood of the seas’ – thought to be the most successful pirate in recorded history – cut a dashing figure in his long deep-cuffed velvet coat, knee breeches, silk stockings and silver-buckled shoes.
Although his ship was heavily armed, his victims were often beguiled by his polite, charming manner before yielding their treasures.
His strategy was to use two ships: a larger, armed vessel to intimidate and a smaller boat that would be used to block and capture targets. Victims’ ships were rarely damaged.
With his imposing presence and long black hair tied back in a ponytail with a black satin bow, he was popular with women and those who met him noted that he was incredibly polite and tidy.
Bellamy was born in February 1689 in the hamlet of Hittisleigh, Devon. Little is known about his life in England, although he fought in several battles for the Royal Navy during his teenage years.
In 1715, he left his wife and child in England to start a new life at sea, ultimately sailing to the coast of Florida in search of sunken Spanish treasure. On the way, he stopped at Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where he fell in love with local beauty Maria Hallett but chose not to settle.
In February 1717, he captured English slave ship the Whydah Gally on its way to Jamaica stuffed with treasure. It was this vessel that sank in April that year, claiming Bellamy’s life and those of all but eight of the 148-man crew.